[NASL]The North American Soccer League's plan to institute a split season -- spring and fall championships -- was intended to double fan interest. But the unintended consequence is that it has doubled the possibility of a team wanting to sit out one half. After the New York Cosmos, the Puerto Rico Islanders announced they'll skip the first half of the 2013 season.
The Islanders, who were founded in 2004, said in a statement that they "will take advantage of this new format and organize a massive 10th year anniversary, strengthen our bonds with our sponsors and, most importantly, our fans."
They hope to return for the second half of the 2013 season that is expected to begin in August. To "strengthen our bonds with our sponsors" is a reference to the club's uncertain financial future.
Islanders President Andres Guillemard-Noble told Prima Hora that the Islanders, who averaged just 1,864 fans in 2012, suffered heavy losses and the club's goal was to re-organize properly to boost attendance and in order to continue in August.
The Islanders' Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon was renovated in 2012, requiring them to play most home games last season at the Bayamon Soccer Complex.
Their future was thrown into doubt after the surprise defeat of Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno. The club depends on government support and it will have to apply for subsidies from the Tourism and Recreation & Sports agencies of the new Popular Democratic Party government of Alejandro Garcia Padilla.
Guillemard-Noble, who refused to term the Islanders' move as a "receso" or pause, said the Islanders would still take part in the Caribbean Club Champions Cup from which they've qualified for all four Concacaf Champions Leagues.
In 2009-10, the Islanders lost to Cruz Azul in semifinals on penalty kicks. In 2010-11, they knocked out the Los Angeles Galaxy in qualifying.
Without the Cosmos and Islanders, the NASL will play the spring season with seven teams.